A New Approach to the Teaching of Singing

In the world of musical performance the teaching of singing stands out as the one situation in which one cannot go into a music store and buy an instrument off the shelf. In all other situations the instrument is there to hold in the hand, or to sit at, or to blow through as the case may be, and the quality of the instrument reflects its standard of construction or the skill of the maker and at this level is independent of the player. In the case of singing however the instrument is the body of the aspiring singer and common wisdom is that one is either blessed by inheritance with the ability to 'hold a tune' or one is not and that is that. The term 'tone deafness' has been coined to explain the inability to sing, thus defining the problem as affecting the faculty of hearing, but the reality is that the 'hearing' may be very acute indeed and the problem resides in the degree of ability of each individual in focusing the singing voice to match the pitch of the sound being heard. Within the population there is a very wide range of natural ability to play the singing instrument and customarily only those who can hold a tune go along to singing lessons but the point is that basically they can already sing. What of that significant proportion of the populace who would dearly love to sing but appear unable to do so? As an integral part of the development of my program entitled 'Calisthenics for the Voice' I have worked with a number of adults who have regarded themselves as 'tone deaf' [this often being the result of negative experiences in the school music system]. Without fail I have shown that the ideas underpinning the program can build the link between the ear and the singing voice and effect the transformation from non-singer to singer, and this not just of simple melodies, but of quite demanding songs from the concert repertoire.

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